Tech platforms quit Alex Jones and InfoWars

Apple has joined Facebook, Spotify and YouTube in tossing Alex Jones and InfoWars material from their platforms.

Apple has removed the entire library for five of Infowars' six podcasts from its iTunes and Podcast apps, BuzzFeed News has learned. Among the podcasts, which were removed from Apples' iTunes directory, are the show "War Room" as well as the popular Alex Jones Show podcast, which is hosted daily by the prominent conspiracy theorist.

The Guardian:

Facebook has banned four pages run by the American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for “repeated violations of community standards”, the company said on Monday. The removal of the pages – the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page – comes after Facebook imposed a 30-day ban on Jones personally “for his role in posting violating content to these pages”.

Until recent days, tech platforms found it hard to understand why they shouldn't support Jones, a conspiracy theorist who claimed that the Sandy Hook parents were paid actors, that 9/11 was perpretrated not by Al Queda but by "globalists", and that the government is poisoning children to make them gay.

The public is growing keenly aware that Silicon Valley's supposed free-speech principles are not only self-serving but plainly up for sale, so there's little point supporting someone whose makes them look this bad. Read the rest

Apple is world's first publicly traded company worth $1tn

A 3 percent climb in share price made Apple the world's first trillion-dollar publicly-traded company.

Apple’s ascent from the brink of bankruptcy to the world’s most valuable public company has been a business tour de force, marked by rapid innovation, a series of smash-hit products and the creation of a sophisticated, globe-spanning supply chain that keeps costs down while producing enormous volumes of cutting-edge devices.

That ascent has also been marked by controversy, tragedy and challenges. Apple’s aggressive use of outside manufacturers in China, for example, has led to criticism that it is taking advantage of poorly paid workers in other countries and robbing Americans of good manufacturing jobs. The company faces numerous questions about how it can continue to grow.

Gas giant Saudi Aramco has twice Apple's revenues and is valued at up to $2tn. But you can't buy yourself a chunk of it—not yet, anyway. Read the rest

Twitter stock drops 20.5% a day after Facebook suffers worst one-day drop in history

Twitter's stock closed 20.5% on Friday after the company announced it lost 1 million active users. More user loss is predicted. Read the rest

Big tech stocks tumble

Facebook's down 20% and Twitter's down 14%, for reasons that everyone now says are obvious.

But the same pundit class was boosting them until reality bit:

One of the funny things about news aggregators, and filtered feeds in general (as opposed to chronological ones) is how they hide time and change and make everything seem immediate. Yesterday's confident bullshit gets posed against today's naked truth, competing with it until no-one's left who believes anything there. Read the rest

Your Samsung smartphone is sharing photos without your permission

Do you own a Samsung smartphone? Do you take photos with said phone? Congratulations, there’s an excellent chance that your handset is randomly firing off those pictures you’ve snapped to folks on your contact list without your permission.

According to The Verge, the images are being pushed out by Samsung’s cleverly named default messaging app, Samsung Messages. If the fact that your phone might be sending out all of the images its got in storage for the world to see isn’t enough of a shit and giggle for you, try this one on for size: Samsung Messages reportedly doesn’t even bother to tell you that the operation has been completed. Unless the person who received the photos lets you know that it happened, you’ll be completely in the dark about the fact that the photos were uploaded.

From The Verge:

Some users are speculating that this issue has to do with the push of RCS messaging updates, including T-Mobile, which is the carrier for at least one of the affected phones. T-Mobile just issued its RCS update this week, starting with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. The messaging standard is supposed to make texting look more like chatting in a modern messaging app, complete with read receipts and typing indicators. When reached for comment, a T-Mobile spokesperson told The Verge to “check in with Samsung on this, it’s not a T-Mobile issue.”

Until carriers and Samsung get this nightmare sorted out, the best way to keep your handset from sharing your photos with the world is to revoke Samsun Messenger’s access rights to your smartphone’s photos folder. Read the rest

The Montague Paratrooper Pro is the best damn bike I've ever owned

When you live full-time in a motorhome, no matter how big it is, there’s not a lot of room for extras. In order to have enough space to be comfortable, its necessary to strip your belongings down to the essentials. A library full of books gives way to e-readers and tablets. Full-sized anything? You’re gonna want to swap it out for a compact model or, better still, a version of it designed to collapse down to a smaller size to store when its not in use. My Montague Paratrooper Pro mountain bike does that. I love it.

Bike designer David Montague put together the original Paratrooper folding mountain bike for the U.S. Military. It was designed to accompany parachutists out the door of a flying airplane and, once on the ground, be used to get the soldier riding it to an objective far more rapidly than if the approach were made on foot. I’d known about these bikes for years. I was obsessed with them. Moving into an RV gave me an excuse to finally get one: it’s a full-sized bike that collapses down small enough that I can stow it in one of our rig’s basement compartments, out of site and out of mind.

The bike I ride, the Paratrooper Pro, comes with a few bells and whistles that the original Montague Paratrooper lacks. It’s front forks can be locked for riding on pavement in the city, or unlocked for a smooth, suspension-aided ride down trails and dirt roads. It’s got 27 gears to the OG Paratrooper’s 24. Read the rest

With the App Store monopoly case, the Supreme Court could reverse decades of frustrated antitrust enforcement

On Monday, the Supreme Court will review the 9th Circuit's decision in Apple Inc. v. Pepper, in which the plaintiffs argue that Apple has established a monopoly over apps for Ios (this part is actually incontrovertible, as Apple has used both technology and law to prevent rival app stores from operating), and that Iphone and Ipad owners have a right to ask the government to break up this monopoly (that's the controversial part). Read the rest

The Kindle Oasis is stupid expensive and stupid lovely to use

I've mentioned it online before, but here we go: Two years ago, my wife and I decided to leave our rented home behind and move into a 40-foot RV. We spend our spring and summer in Alberta, Canada where she has a job for six months of the year working as an addictions counselor. The other half of the year, we head south to Mexico and beyond so that she can work as a dive Instructor.

This might be an excellent time to point out that my partner is far more interesting than I'll ever be.

We love this life, but it's not without its difficulties. We have all the repairs that come along with home ownership and owning a semi-truck, rolled into one. Our paychecks can sometimes take weeks to catch up to us, leaving us eating rice and beans. Again. But perhaps the worst thing about living in a motorhome, for us, is that we had to get rid of our book collection. Between us, we owned hundreds of books. We looked upon them as shelves of old friends who we could turn to, no matter what life brought us. But, sometimes, you have to leave old friends behind in order to grow. A motorhome can only carry so much weight, not to mention the limited amount of space that you'll find inside of one. We packed them up and took them to our favorite used bookstore where they'll, hopefully, find new homes.

When I'm not guest blogging here, part of my job is to review e-readers. Read the rest

Cheap eBay solder vs the good stuff

Androkavo tests some of the cheap eBay solder against the brand-name stuff; it gets there in the end, but it's surely not the advertized 60/40 alloy and needs to be close to 400° before it behaves itself. Read the rest

2017's shittiest technology trends, news blurts, and stupidities

MIT Tech Review's Antonio Regalado rounds up the year's stupidest, worst moments in tech, from the guy who created his own CRISPR-based gene therapy to beef up his muscles and injected it to Donald Trump's Twitter feed to the FCC's Net Neutrality catastrophe. Of course, Juicero rates a mention. Read the rest

Infosec vs. its predators

Pundits suggest the "Weinstein moment" — a broader, deeper awareness of abusive conduct, sexual harassment and criminal sexuality — is already fading without significant change. Few of the offenders face consequences worse than losing a gig, and yesterday we learned The New York Times isn't even up to that, letting its celebrity groper keep his job and trotting out Executive Editor Dean Baquet to dismiss his admitted behavior as merely "offensive." Sarah Jeong looks at another example: the hacker community, which did a surprisingly good job of outing its "missing stairs" but has trouble banishing them for good.

In information security, as in many other industries where the accused is a prominent figure, accusations can turn into a competition of social capital, and the accused almost always wins out over their accusers. But in this community, giving an accused rapist a pass has often been framed as a moral imperative with four words: “He does good work.” The assumption is that talent is scarce and sexual misconduct must be tolerated for the good of society. Little to no consideration is given to what we lose from disbelieving victims — their technical and social contributions, any future contributions by people who quite reasonably decide to avoid a toxic culture, and even beyond that, the quiet erosion of trust among bystanders. Complicity leaves a stain on us all.

Read the rest

The history of the web in 20 seconds

Webflow's history of the web is a Bayeaux Tapestry of obsolete virtues and current vices, a superimposition of new and old bad things. It's a clever and very 2017 way to market a web design app that lets normal people keep making worthwhile mistakes on the web -- a gateway to free expression -- as it becomes increasingly technical and forbidding.

I'm startled by how comfortingly, reliably minimal the very early stuff was. Even the lurid GIF explosion in late 1990s! Simple technology made even a terrible mess accessible. Read the rest

Tech Support Gore

My new favorite subreddit is r/techsupportgore, where people who fix computers post the nightmare scenarios they find themselves in. It's not always the grand-guignol horror of Playstation 4 cockroach farms or, as pictured, loaves of solidly-baked dust. Some of them are subtle problems that can take a while to spot or which might even be invisible to nontechnical folk. Sometimes, the name is literal.

Previously: Toner Explosion. Read the rest

Telcos "selling realtime ability to associate web browsing with name & address"

Telcos provide API access to your phone's location, along with your name and address, writes Philip Neutstrom. With two links, to danalinc.com and payfone.com, he shows that these sites can access this data when your phone connects. The pages are demos for the API and serve some of the data provided back to the visitor.

In 2003, news came to light that AT&T was providing the DEA and other law enforcement agencies with no-court-warrant-required access to real time cell phone metadata. This was a pretty big deal at the time.

But what these services show us is even more alarming: US telcos appear to be selling direct, non-anonymized, real-time access to consumer telephone data to third party services — not just federal law enforcement officials — who are then selling access to that data.

Given the trivial “consent” step required by these services and unlikely audit controls, it appears that these services could be used to track or de-anonymize nearly anyone with a cell phone in the United States with potentially no oversight.

It knew my name and address and more besides, and located to me to a few hundred feet's accuracy. I certainly never knowingly opted-in to it. Read the rest

Recommended: Ifixit's Pro Tech Toolkit

Ifixit's Pro Tech Toolkit comes with 64 specialized screw bits that help my wife and I get into many restricted areas of technology.

The carrying case rolls out like a sleeping bag, with the goodies neatly tucked into tiny canvas holders, and the clever container that holds the bits is held to the carrying case by a magnet – easily detached when needed.

The set is intelligently designed; one flexible extender allows you to unscrew at 90 degree angles, perfect for working in the tight confines of a PC case. Read the rest

Compare tiny PC cases with this useful online spreadsheet

Looking for a tiny PC that still has space for a gaming-quality video card? SFF PC Cases is a remarkably detailed spreadsheet listing dozens of models, complete with cost, dimensions, volume and even important build tips. The very smallest are not practical for powerful builds, but the critical "Maximum GPU length" field is right there to help you out.

The gold-standard NCase M1 turns out to be only the 27th smallest case that can accommodate a GPU, and even the ultrawee Dan Case A4 doesn't hit the top ten! But it's also true that many on the list require fat external power bricks (if you're happy with that, the Custom Mod and S4 Mini models are astoundingly tiny, though good luck finding them for sale) or impose other brutal compromises, such as proprietary power supplies, too-severe limitations on GPU size, or plain goofy design.

The smallest case that's widely-available, attractive, and (relatively) inexpensive? And not so small that assembly will be a nightmare? Probably the Fractal Node 202. Read the rest

Why tech predictors are so terrible at the job

Enjoy Michael Mullany's review of the Gartner Hype Cycle, with all the things tech predictors got right and all the things they got wrong: "we're terrible at making predictions."

Lesson 6: Some technologies keep receding into the future

There are some notable technologies that recur on the Hype Cycle and every time they appear they seem equally scifi. Although at some point, I'm sure they will not. The most notable are:

Quantum Computing: as early as 2000, quantum computing was considered more than a decade away (and likely still is).

Brain/Computer Interfaces: (also aliased under Human Augmentation) despite notable progress on neural control of prosthetics, thought controlled computing is still a work in progress with general availability lurking at least a decade away.

When I was covering the tech beat, I'd often get annoyed because we'd use these guys as expert sources, but it was plainly obvious that many of them are just retired journos who had gone into investment consulting, with a little insight into the supply chain and none at all into the science.

Though he's not one of those types, my favorite was Gene Munster, who seemed to spend at least a decade regularly predicting the imminent arrival of an Apple TV set. He appears to have quit this year, which doubtless means they will announce one soon. Read the rest

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